Due to the emotional draining and potentially stressful nature of social work practice, the availability of social work supervision becomes desirable and necessary. Supervision has to be implemented continuously in order to render an effective and sufficient service to clients, families and communities. Social work supervisors have very important and necessary roles to play in the professional development of social workers and the effective functioning of the social services organisations in which they are employed. Additional to the responsibility pertaining to the social workers, supervisors are middle managers and thus have specific management responsibilities as well. The result is that the supervisor has to implement both supervision and management functions. Supervisors function under stress that is enforced by expectations from social workers and senior management. Social workers do have formal channels of feedback and support in the supervisors that provide opportunities for commendation. Supervisors have no such formally assigned sources of feedback or support. There is little recognition for their accomplishments and little or no support when they encounter problems. The problem is that the lack or absence of support and support systems for social work supervisors has a negative influence on their supervisory and managerial services to social workers. The supervisory and managerial expectations were identified as prove of the demands placed on supervisors as well as the work-related stress that they are subjected to. A few management strategies have been identified as possible support systems for supervisors in the management of supervisees. Support systems that were identified and discussed are employee benefits, employee incentives, job description, knowledge of the budget and financial controls, employee assistance program, supervisors’ peer support group, career planning, organizational culture, organizational climate and the immediate superior. The empirical research was done through the quantitative research technique and a mailed questionnaire as data gathering method. The social work supervisors of the Department of Welfare were the research population and the participating provinces were Mpumalanga, Free State and Eastern Cape. The data received through the questionnaires supported the indication that supervisors do not receive support in the execution of their responsibilities. It was confirmed that the identified support systems, if utilised and applied effectively, could provide supervisors with support. The empirical research and the literature study have confirmed the following research statements: 1. Insufficient support systems are available to supervisors in the social work profession. 2. The available support systems for social work supervisors are inadequately administered and utilised . 3. Due to the inadequate utilisation of support systems, supervisors experience lack of support resulting in neglected supervisory and managerial practice. Relevant data from the questionnaires and the literature study formed the basis for the development of guidelines for application of the support systems. It is recommended that these guidelines be implemented for the support systems to be effectively utilised and applied.
Thesis (DPhil (Social Work))--University of Pretoria, 2007.